Saturday, February 25, 2017

American English and Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Saturday night, my husband and I actually managed to have a date night. (Yes, this is a rare enough event to merit a blog post.) While my son went to a birthday party and then to a friend's house, we saw a Beatles tribute band, American English, perform at a local community college.

If you're not familiar with tribute bands, they pay homage to a particular artist or group by emulating everything from the outfits to the instruments to (of course) the music itself. The members of American English even copy the speech patterns and mannerisms of the individual Beatles. Of course, there's simply no replacement for the original John, Paul, George, and Ringo, but groups like American English give us a chance to enjoy live Beatles music.

This particular concert was billed as both a birthday tribute to George Harrison and a live version of Sargent Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. I was therefore not expecting the first part of the show to feature B-sides and lesser known works from the early part of the Beatles' career, but I enjoyed it. American English played songs such as "Run for Your Life," "Matchbox," "Another Girl," "Till There Was You," and many more. It's surprising how many songs they performed in an hour or so, but most of the early songs were short. When they finished this part of the show, they quickly changed from the early "moptop" costumes to Abbey Road ones. "George" came out first to play a mix of solo and Beatles George songs--the most popular ones. (There were a lot of other great Harrisongs that didn't get played, but they would have had to devote the entire concert to George to do justice to his catalog.) The rest of the band crept onstage to join him for "Here Comes the Sun." They closed out the first half of the show with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and served cupcakes during the intermission.

The second half of the show was devoted to the Sargent Pepper era, and the band dressed accordingly in the florescent uniforms from the album cover. Thanks to a "fifth member" with a synthesizer, they were able to recreate the many special sound effects from the album. Apparently it took the group six months to put this part of the show together. They didn't play the album straight through, but stopped to talk a bit between songs. Part of this could have been to give "Paul" a chance to drink water. Apparently he was still recovering from the flu, and he had great difficulty singing at this point. Nevertheless, he persisted. I particularly liked the way they added snippets of "Tomorrow Never Knows" to "Within You Without You," which was more rock-like (less sitar-dependent) than the Beatles' version. After finishing "A Day in the Life," the group came back to perform an encore of "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever."

No matter if you're a casual or serious Beatles fan, if you have the chance to see a tribute group, particularly American English, I suggest you take it. A splendid time is guaranteed for all. 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nice when a cover band goes the extra mile to deliver a great show. Beatles songs were really short so I imagine they crammed a lot in.

Sandra Almazan said...

I thought I had scheduled this post for tomorrow, but Blogger must have switched it to the draft date. Oh well. Yes, Alex, they packed a lot into a show that was about two-and-a-half hours long.

Pat Dilloway said...

Sounds like you had a good time.

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